BW – EP70: Christmas Shopping With Jack Benny—How One Man Changed The Entertainment Industry

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In Breaking Walls Episode 70, we’re celebrating the month of December by spotlighting The Jack Benny Program. Jack Benny was the highest rated comedian of his era. Beginning on radio in 1932, he was a radio mainstay until 1958. The programs’ Christmas shows are some of their most famous.

Highlights:
• Jack’s beginnings in Waukegan, IL
• How Jack began playing the violin.
• His transition to comedy
• How Ed Sullivan changed Jack’s career in 1932
• How Jack Benny saved Jell-O
• The secret to Jack’s comedic success
• How Jack Benny was a situation comedy pioneer
• What Bugs Bunny and Bing Crosby have in common
• How Jack Benny used a tax loophole to change the entertainment industry’s entire tax structure
• How Jack helped CBS become the broadcasting giant of the 1950s
life after radio and television
• A gentle man

The episodes featured in today’s broadcast were from:
December 11, 1938
December 18, 1938
December 24, 1944
March 16, 1947
December 26, 1948
December 31, 1953

Special thanks to Chuck Schaden for his interviews with Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Don Wilson, and Jack Benny. The full versions of these interviews are all available to stream for free or to download for a small fee at SpeakingofRadio.com. I’d also like to thank Dick Bertel and the late Ed Corcoran for their interviews with Elliot Lewis and Mel Blanc. All of their interviews from the 1970s hartford-based Golden Age of Radio program can be found at the Old Time Radio Researchers Library at OTRRLibrary.org
Reading material used in this episode:
The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning
Raised on Radio by Gerald Nachman

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